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Asacha Media acquires UK factual prodco Arrow, co-founder Smithson to step back

Pan-European production group Asacha Media has acquired a majority stake in UK-based factual prodco Arrow International Media.

Tom Brisley

Arrow was founded in 2011 by Darlow Smithson trio Tom Brisley, John Smithson and Iain Pelling and has become a prolific producer of factual content for UK and international broadcasters, particularly in the true crime genre.

As part of the deal, Brisley and Pelling will continue to lead Arrow as co-managing directors and maintain minority stakes, while Smithson has chosen to step back from the company. He will deliver his current productions and then work independently, with Arrow and Asacha having a first-look deal on new projects.

Brisley also becomes a shareholder in Asacha, alongside the founders of the business and other managers of Asacha’s production companies.

Arrow currently delivers more than 100 hours a year across genres that also include history, nature, adventure and science. Its credits include ID series See No Evil and American Monster, Nat Geo’s Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Seven Days On Mars for the BBC.

The acquisition of Arrow, financed with a mix of equity provided by the existing shareholders and debt financing provided by Tikehau Capital, represents a significant expansion for Asacha into the factual space.

John Smithson

As part of Asacha, Arrow will now pursue further growth in the UK and US, while expanding into new markets and exploring international coproduction opportunities with other factual producers within the pan-European group, according to a statement from the companies this morning.

Gaspard de Chavagnac and Marina Williams, Asacha’s co-CEOs, said in a statement: “Arrow’s market-leading position in the fast-growing factual space, along with their strong leadership and ambitious plans for the future, make them an ideal fit for Asacha. Bringing them into our group makes us a major player in English-language factual across key markets including the US and UK.

“Our focus will be accelerating Arrow’s growth and extending their reach into new territories as they build on their reputation for world-class series and features that captivate global audiences.”

Brisley, co-MD of Arrow, added: “Becoming part of an independent group allows Arrow the freedom to continue to work for anyone, anywhere and everywhere. They match our ambitions and our understanding of Arrow’s global potential.”

Since launching in April 2020 with majority stakes in Italian production houses Picomedia and Stand By Me, as well as French production company Mintee Studio, Paris-headquartered Asacha has taken controlling stakes in UK factual producer WAG Entertainment, UK drama producer Red Planet Pictures, French scripted studio Kabo Family and French producer Srab Films.

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